Climate Change: 5 Key Points From The IPCC Report Summarised
Updated: Aug 26
Climate change is no longer a hypothetical threat; it is a reality that we are witnessing right now.
We have emphasised five key points:
A fact that has been meticulously documented and researched year after year by hundreds of scientists, the work of which has been meticulously evaluated and summarised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
This UN agency, which is in charge of assessing the level of knowledge about climate change, its causes, and consequences, has recently released the first of three parts of its sixth assessment report, which is devoted to "scientific evidence" on climate change.
1. Human Effect On The Climate Is A Well-Established And Undeniable Reality
The current IPCC report affirms what earlier studies have previously stated: there is no doubt that human activity is driving global warming of the atmosphere, seas, and land.
New in-depth research and data have emerged to strengthen our understanding of the linkages between CO2 emissions caused by human activities, climate disturbances, extreme weather events, and their consequences, particularly at the regional level.
Scientists have been able to demonstrate clear linkages between certain severe occurrences, such as the 2020 Siberian heat wave, and climate change thanks to improved instruments and more accurate methodologies.
2. Climate Change Is Unprecedented And Happening Quicker Than Expected
According to the 2014 assessment report, the globe has been experiencing exceptional warming: the previous five years have been the warmest on record since at least 1850. Climate changes witnessed in recent years are simply unparalleled in human history.
The rise in sea level has accelerated significantly (three times quicker than between 1901 and 1971), as has the melting of the ice caps (that of Greenland melted six times faster between 2010 and 2019 than during the previous decade).
3. Tipping Points With Unexpected Effects May Be Reached
According to the IPCC assessment, profound and long-term impacts are now irrevocably at work: melting glaciers, increasing temperatures and sea level, ocean acidification... However, the size and pace of these changes are directly related to the CO2 emissions that humans continue to emit.
With these pollutants and temperatures continuing to increase, previously thought-to-be-unlikely effects cannot be ruled out. The warmer the globe becomes, the more tipping points (such as the elimination of the Amazon rainforest or the removal of the Antarctic ice cap) are likely to occur, and their accumulation can have irreversible and unforeseen effects.
4. It Is Still Feasible To Limit The Temperature Rise To Less Than 1.5 Degrees Celsius
The UN agency predicted that this limit would be surpassed between 2030 and 2052 if the current trend is not changed in its special study on the risks of 1.5° C global warming, released in 2018. Recent analyses suggest that the limits are actually tighter: if we want to have at least a 50% chance of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we only have 440 Gt of CO2 left to release as of... 2020. However, worldwide CO2 emissions topped 40 Gt in 2019.
If current trends continue, the carbon budget for limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius will be depleted by the early 2030s. Technically, the goal of + 1.5 ° C remains achievable, but not as planned. 'According to French Environment Minister Barbara Pompili, scientific statistics demonstrate unequivocally that we cannot afford to "wait a little longer" and "go quietly," whatever the field.
5. Inaction And Delays Simply Raise The Dangers Day By Day
IPCC reminds us in its most recent report: the differences between climate change at + 1.1 ° C (the threshold currently crossed, compared to the pre-industrial period), + 1.5 ° C, or + 2 ° C are significant. Extreme and unexpected weather events are likely to occur more frequently and intensely even at + 1.5 ° C. Every tenth is significant. However, according on our analyses, we are on track for a catastrophic scenario at + 2.9 ° C in the current state of climate policies (or lack thereof). Even if all government commitments were followed, with the proper measures in place, the likelihood of surpassing a 2 ° C rise would be 80%.
The GIEC's mandate is not to make policy recommendations or to prescribe specific measures. However, the unavoidable conclusion that he is about to detail, based on sound scientific knowledge and data, should cause a rethinking of all policymakers. It is critical that governments agree on a 1.5°C target and revise their policies accordingly, particularly at the upcoming COP26 meeting in Glasgow in November.
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To read the full IPCC report: Part I of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report